Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Carnitas: Chipotle-Style

Our whole family really likes Chipotle, so it's no surprise that we all like this recipe for Carnitas: layered like a Burrito Bowl at Chipotle.  I will warn you ahead of time - this recipe requires a bit of forethought.  The carnitas cook for 10 hours in a crock pot, so you will at least want to start the morning-of.  And the Chiptole-style layering method calls for prepared rice. I recommend making a dish with rice earlier in the week (like Red Beans & Rice), and saving 2 cups of extra rice to go with the carnitas.  

If you do these few steps ahead of time, you won't have much left to prepare when dinner time rolls around. 

The recipe for Carnitas is the real keeper here.  I've tried it several times and made several variations - this is my favorite. The Chipotle-style layering is just one way that our family likes them served.  The Carnitas are excellent for tacos, gorditas, chalupas and flautas too.  

4 lb boneless pork shoulder roast, cubed... or 4 lb package of Carnitas)
2-3 ham hocks
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth

Mix together seasonings (salt through cinnamon) in a bowl.  Coat the pork with the spice mixture, covering as much area of the pork as possible with spices. Place the bay leaves and ham hocks in the bottom of the crock pot and place the seasoned pork on top. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spices. 

Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours. When the pork is tender, remove it from slow cooker, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and shred with two forks.  It will look like this:

Now, the real magic of these Carnitas is that AFTER spending 10 HOURS in the slow cooker, they go into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  This will give them that nice crispy texture that make Carnitas so good.  But wait... don't send the Carnitas into the oven alone!  This is where the layering comes in. You might as well throw some rice, beans, corn and cheese in there with them. And when everything comes out of the oven, you have a complete meal. The ingredients I use are listed below. But you could get creative and make yours reflect your favorite Chipotle bowl.  Just make sure that the Carnitas are on TOP when everything goes into the oven. 

For the Chipotle-Style Layering:
2 cups prepared rice
1/4 cup sour cream
1/8 cup salsa verde (I buy prepared salsa verde, but always check the label as some are very high in sodium)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Mexicorn, drained
1 cup Cheddar and/or Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
Pico de Gallo (optional topping)
Sour cream (optional topping)

Preheat oven to 400. Combine rice, sour cream and salsa verde then add to the bottom of a casserole dish. Top with black beans, then Mexicorn, then cheese, then Carnitas.  Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until dish is warmed throughout and Carnitas are crispy. Serve with Pico de Gallo and/or sour cream (optional).

Note: you can do the layering ahead of time and store the casserole dish in the refrigerator until you are ready to top with Carnitas and bake. 

Print recipe.
Layer 1: Creamy Rice
Layer 2: Black Beans
Layer 3: Mexicorn
Layer 4: Cheese (Cheddar & Monterrey Jack)
Layer 5: Shredded Carnitas
This is after 20 minutes in the oven... don't the Carnitas look so good?!  
Note:  You will probably have twice the Carnitas that you need for one meal. You could make two casseroles by doubling the 'Chipotle-style layering' ingredients.  The dish travels well if you will be taking it to a friend. Otherwise, freeze any extra Carnitas and use them next time!



  1. this is one of my favs!

  2. This sounds and looks amazing! I will have to try this :)

    1. I hope you like it as much as we do! ~ Lauren